As her business’ website proclaims, former teacher Loren McCue is “pumpin’ art from the heart” with a new after-school art studio on Creek Street.
“The Artery,” located above Soho Coho at 5 Creek Street, is a gallery and studio space where McCue and her daughter, Karley Lesko, teach classes four days a week to students ages 5 through 18. The space also hosts birthday or office parties.
McCue brings a wealth of art instruction experience to the new endeavor that opened in late September.
McCue was an artist-in-residence at Valley Park Elementary School. After the school closed, she taught art to students at Tongass School of Arts and Sciences, where she worked until earlier this year.
“It just felt like I needed to do something different after so long,” McCue told the Daily News about leaving TSAS to start her business. “I felt like I had reached my capacity there and I was just really ready to turn it over to somebody else for a fresh perspective.”
“My initial thought was (that) I was just going to retire,” McCue continued. “And then of course I missed teaching a lot, and I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’ll run an after-school art program.’”
Before she found the space above the Soho Coho gallery, McCue had considered holding her classes after school in a classroom at TSAS.
However, McCue decided to pursue finding her own space.
“I needed to hit a broader audience, so I needed to do it outside of school,” she explained, adding that her students come from a variety of educational backgrounds.
Eventually, McCue found out through a friend that the space above the gallery was available. She was initially concerned that the room, which is bisected by a set of stairs and features an additional staircase to a loft in the back corner, would be too small.
It turned out to be “just a perfect fit,” McCue said.
She added tables and shelves to the room, which already featured built-in storage in the walls. For decorations, McCue added bright, primary-colored tables and stools, crates and cases of art supplies, inspirational posters and samples of her students’ artwork, which vary from paintings to cardboard constructions.
“It’s just this funky kind of art building, it’s always been,” McCue said. “So I was lucky to find it.”
After moving into the space, McCue began to develop her curriculum. She said the process — along with budgeting for supplies — came naturally because of her experience with teaching art.
While she was developing her classes, many parents expressed interest in an “overall art class,” which led McCue to schedule classes for four days a week. Monday and Tuesday afternoons are for Artery students ages 5 through 12. Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are for 12-year-olds through 18-year-olds.
Classes run in this style for six weeks at a time. After a six-week session ends, McCue hopes that the students can open an exhibit to display their work. “The Artery” has only completed one session — classes first began on Sept. 23 and ended on Halloween, which was the perfect time for students to display their Halloween-themed work in the gallery on the night of Oct. 31.
McCue developed her program so that kids can participate in one or two of the classes for their age group, without missing out on the lessons. The price of participation in a six-week session is “generally” $90 plus a $20 supply fee, although the fees may vary in response to the project that McCue decides on for the session.
After a session ends, McCue and Lesko take a week off from teaching classes. The newest session began on Nov. 11 and focuses on “craftsmanship” and creating quality gifts for giving to family and friends.
After this session ends next week, The Artery will shift focus to creating projects for the fast-approaching Wearable Arts Show in January.